Latin America is often completely forgotten in the Mass Media, and thus by most people living in Canada and “the West”. Yet as the decades have gone on, Latin America, from Mexico and the Caribbean to South America, has gained strength, econmically, politically, and even militarily.
The BBC has an excellent ongoing series on Latin America and it’s tendency recently to elect leftist governments.
In the news lately have been elections in Haiti, Peru, Chile and Bolivia.
Today, Haitians elected representatives in their Parliament as well as two Vice Presidential posts. Turnout has been very low due to violence, and dissatisfaction with the UN operations (in which Canada has played a major role). It appears Haitians think not much will change in their country after the vote. Unfortunately, they’re likely right. The President, elected in February, has promised to grant former-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide the right to return to the country that he fled after violent uprisings in 2004.
In Costa Rica, Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias will be the next President. It seems not because of his policies as much as because he is “untainted” by recent political scandal. He support CAFTA, the free trade agreement with the US. This will likely sound very familiar to Canadians.
In Peru, voters will likely be going back to the polls for a runoff vote. The leftist, Hugo Chavez-esque candidate, Ollanta Humala, will likely be up against a female conservative candidate who favours business and increased ties to the US. It is expected that Humala will win with support from the 50% of Peruvians below the poverty line.
In Bolivia, it has been widely reported that the new President, Evo Morales, is best buddies with both Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. With a picture of Che Guevara in his Presidential Suite that’s not surprising. And while he’s feeling “padlocked” by pesky laws in his country, there is no doubt he will be changing things for Bolivians. Hopefully in a good way, but definitely in a way that will not jive with the current US Administration policies.
Latin America has power, in the form of oil and gas exports, military exports, drug trafficking and as a source of massive immigration into the US. The fact that these countries are, for the most part making moves that deviate strongly from the right-wing US Economic and Political Hegemony that has control Latin America for so long is something that the US will have to recognize and address at some point.
The BBC has an excellent Q&A with Otto Reich and Noam Chomsky on US-Latin America relations.
If Humala wins in Peru, then leftist, largely populist, leaders will have taken power over the entire South American continent save for Ecuador (which has an interim government), Paraguay (which is still ruled by the former dictators party), and Columbia (which is completely dependent on US support in its civil war).